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I was only a child when it happened. A holiday from hell that I wish I could forget forever.

We arrived in Sri Lanka on holiday and I was instantly home sick. I was physically ill. And I wanted to go home to my dad.

No matter how much I begged though, I soon came to realise that we were not going to be returning home any time soon.

Looking back on how I felt, I now question whether it was merely just a feeling of home sickness, the freshness of my parent’s divorce – or if it was something far deeper than that.

Was it some kind of sixth sense that children occasionally have which lets them know when there is impending danger.

Danger Ahead

My mother, brother and grandmother were just so excited about the holiday that eventually it calmed my nerves a little- or at least it helped me to be able to get out of bed after a couple of days of being completely bedridden.

It was my first time going overseas and probably my first time going anywhere significant without my father. And I missed him tremendously.

This was almost thirty years ago, at a time when technology wasn’t so readily available. When you couldn’t pull out your mobile and contact a loved one whenever your heart desired.

I was a child in a foreign country who was scared and just wanted to go home.

Where The Holiday From Hell Began

One day my mother planned a trip to Mount Sigiriya. It’s a beautiful, ancient fortress. The locals refer to it as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, and given its age and its advanced architecture it truly is a magnificent place to see.

My mother enlisted the help of a driver to take us there. When we got there however I didn’t realise that I would be travelling up this massive mountain which is 370 meters above sea level, completely alone with this total stranger.

My heart stopped when we reached the destination and my mother broke the news. She would be waiting with my little brother, whilst I went with this man.

I didn’t want to go.

I wanted her to come with me. Or at least leave my brother with my grandmother and come with this stranger and me.

But she didn’t.

It’s the strangest feeling when you sense that something bad is about to happen. It’s hard to put it into words.

Sixth Sense

I thought that perhaps it was just the sight of all the armed guards – this was decades ago, when the country was still at war. So the presence of army men with guns was perfectly normal.

I had no choice but to go with this man up the mountain. I didn’t want to disappoint my mother any more than what I already had with my reaction when we first arrived and me wanting to go home. She already felt that I was a “traitor” and that I was being “loyal” to my father. I wasn’t going to upset her any further.

We climbed for what felt like forever. My legs were on fire when I reached the top. I was physically exhausted. I was just a young child who had climbed a massive mountain.

Invasion

Which made it all the more easier for him to drag me into the bushes when we reached the plateau.

Suddenly those army men with guns didn’t seem as frightening anymore. Where were they when I needed help? Surely one of them must have seen what he did to me.

Or is the life of a female child truly worth nothing to them? In a country where the rate of sexual assault is as high as what it still is, are females considered to be worthless?

Why didn’t someone stop him?

Run!

Finally, the adrenaline rush kicked in, and as soon as I could, I bolted down that mountain as fast as my legs would carry me! I don’t believe I have ever run so fast in all my life.

I was a complete mess when I found my mother. All I could manage to say was “let’s go”, “we need to go”.

But of course we couldn’t. She asked me where the driver was and I didn’t know, nor did I care. I just wanted to get to safety. And waiting for him wasn’t part of my plan… but it was hers. We needed to wait for him so that we could get back to where we were staying.

He took longer than expected to reach us. And I wonder whether he feared that I had told my mother everything- I couldn’t though. Not right then and there.

I could hardly breathe. I felt embarrassed, sick, and I was still processing it all.

Guilty!

Guilt was written all over his face when he finally arrived, which soon turned to a sickening smugness when he realised I hadn’t said anything.

Confession

That night when my mother was giving me a bath I told her everything.

I was hurt. She had to know. She could make everything better. But did she want to?

“Do you know what you’re saying! That man has a wife and a daughter the same age as you! How could you lie like this?!?” was not the response I had anticipated, it was nonetheless the response that I received from her.

I was in primary school. I had not even had the sex education classes yet. I was oblivious as to why this man had done what he did.

I had never spoken about such matters with my mother prior to this ordeal- yet she believed that I was lying.

Bathing my naked body. Seeing I was hurt. She still chose to ignore it. Pretend that it never happened.

It didn’t end there though.

She continued to have this driver in our lives. She left my little brother with him. And he used that against me.

He knew that I would never leave my brother’s side for fear of what might happen to him. And so that evil man used my little brother as bait for me.

No closure ever came from this, not because I was never able to press charges against him. But more because I never had support from the people in my life whose responsibility it was to make sure I was safe, or at the very least, believed me.

Trust!

Even with all the counselling I have sought over the years, one thing remains unresolved which haunts me the most and that is the trust between parent and child.

It should go without saying, but we owe it to our children as their primary caregivers to let them have the benefit of the doubt, especially in such a traumatic situation.

Assuming that someone is incapable of causing harm to a child based on the fact that they have children themselves is beyond foolish.

Perhaps my mother didn’t want to feel as though she had failed. Or maybe she feared that my dad might be able to use what happened against her to gain custody. Or maybe it was all too painful for her to process- I know that to this day she refuses to acknowledge what occurred.

Whatever the case may be, we owe it to our children to put them first. To set our pride aside and fight for them in their time of need.

It’s Easy To Blame The Victim

Anyone is capable of misjudging a predator, I’m sure if they were that easy to spot they would all be locked up. It’s easy to blame the victim. Believe me, they already blame themselves. They already think about all of the things they could have done differently to prevent it from happening.

No one ever wants to have this happen. But it does. And it’s our duty to fulfill our obligations as parents and ensure our child is able to make a full recovery. Not just physically, but emotionally.

A holiday is a time when people usually let their guard down. Endorphins are pumping. And the belief that nothing can go wrong is most people’s mindset- as it should be, otherwise what would be the point of going on a ‘relaxing’ holiday.

It’s important to remember however that predators probably expect this. They know precisely who to prey on.

Don’t Let It Be Your Child!

For decades I was cautious about who I shared this experience with, for fear of being judged- as a mother of seven however, it’s important to me now more than ever to raise awareness that these kinds of horrific incidents can happen to anyone at even the best of times.

Please, don’t let it be your child.

Often we don’t get to choose what happens to us, we can however most certainly choose how we grow from it, learn from it and help others.

What a brave mum for sharing her story with us! Leave your comments below.

If you need help, don’t hesitate to call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14

  • So strange that you had to endure this, almost a punishment for you loving your father by your mother. It hurts terribly not to be believed, but it was a very different era when you grew up and children weren’t automatically believed in those days as they are now.
    I do feel for you and hope you have come to grips with what happened – it is such a hard thing to do.
    Not being believed is probably the worst part, it’s why so many pedophiles get away with what they did back then, they knew a child wouldn’t be believed over the person/adult.
    Having been in a similar situation, I can understand your grief and I also understand how much you would make sure none of your seven children would ever be in the same situation.
    Good on you for speaking out – and I hope you will eventually find a way through your grief.

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  • My goodness, what a sad story!! What happened with this little kid was heart breaking itself and on top of that her mother behaving in such a weird manner is just terrible. Sorry to say but she proved to be a horrible mom. No mother can leave their daughter with a stranger; that too in a foreign country. Somewhere it seems she wanted to punish you.

    I’m fuming with anger thinking about her mom. May god give the kid strength to forget this horrible past.

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  • My goodness, how awful for you. I hope you are healing.

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  • Scary

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  • Horrendous story. I’m glad you have spoken out. You were a child and should feel no guilt. Communication is still the best tool we have against predators.

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  • I hope as a population, we start to listen to others when they say they were assualted. Sure there can be liars, but there are many who are telling the truth and are forever scarred. They need support. It’s sad that her mother treated it this way, and I know of many tales just like it. I know I for one will be listening openly to my daughter if she ever tells me anything like this.
    Secondly, who leaves their child with a complete stranger in a random country.

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  • very scary

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  • Oh that is such a horrifying thing for this woman to go through. Not only to assault but her mother not helping her in anyway and putting her in further trauma and harms way
    Children should be listened to and supported

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  • This woman is very brave to share her story. The fact she’s married and has seven children shows she’s a very strong woman too ! What a pain to be so dismissed and ignored by one of the most important persons in your world, that scars you for the rest of your life.

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  • It’s hard being honest and it hurts my heart knowing he rodent have hr family’s support. It must’ve been hard and something you never forget

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  • As horrific as this sounds, it makes me wonder if the mother had planned it. The girl believed her mum thought her a traitor, and really who the hell takes their kids to a foreign country and leaves them in the hands of a stranger whilst they casually wait down below? And on top of that even though she could see evidence of the assault she called her daughter a liar and continued to leave both her children alone with this man? She sounds pretty sus to me! I know she said he looked guilty and then smug when he realised she hadn’t said anything, but maybe that was more fear of the guards finding out than the mother? I feel for this woman, she should have been treated better than she was and her mother was the worst betrayal of all.


    • Yes that thought went through my mind too. In the same way mums can be part of incest stories and allow things to happen, she could be part of this. This mum is guilty of a huge offensive and it would be good she would be held accountable

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  • such a shame that this mother dismissed her daughter being honest – that’s very sad. I am sorry that she had to endure this and have no support. I cannot begin to imagine the relationship between the mother and daughter after this. So incredibly heart broken to read this. I do admit I am extremely over protective but we cannot wrap kids up in cotton wool no matter how much we wish we could. We have to just know that we have taught them right from wrong and to not be afraid to speak up if something wrong does occur. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding us to listen to our children and to be there for them no matter what

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  • So awful she has to endure this and very upsetting to know she had no support.

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  • As a parent I would never leave my child with a stranger. In actual fact, I admit I’ve always been over protective. The mother is as much to blame for this horrendous situation and if I was that child then I would hope that I would have had the courage to leave home as soon as I could. I can’t imagine ever forgiving my mother, or being able to live with her, if she had ever done anything to me like that.


    • I think exactly the same. The mother shouldn’t have let that little girl go away with a stranger. :-(

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  • Sad to read she had no support from her mum for what she went through.

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